Islands comb own shores for solutions to environmental pressures
CALVIA, Spain, April 26 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Island governments around the world are no longer begging for help to tackle the many problems they face - from too many tourists to devastating storms and rising seas - but are finding their own solutions and sharing them, experts say.
There has been a "huge shift" in the past 10 to 15 years, said Kate Brown, executive director of the Global Island Partnership, an alliance spearheaded by island leaders.
Islands no longer present themselves merely as victims of external pressures, but are blazing a trail in areas such as marine conservation, renewable energy and sustainable tourism.
"There is a real difference in thinking - that it is possible to do something and we don't need to wait for other people to tell us what to do," Brown told the Smart Island World Congress in Calvia on the Spanish island of Mallorca this week.
Islands have had successes at international climate talks, she noted - from winning a lower limit on global temperature rise in the Paris climate deal to convincing the world's shipping industry to curb its planet-warming emissions.
Progress is being made on home shores too, Brown said. Her organisation is working with the Marshall Islands, Palau and Fiji, for instance, to see how global development goals apply to them and uniting business and government to map out an action plan - as has been done in Hawaii.
The conference, attended by representatives of more than 100 islands alongside researchers, businesses and other experts, showcased efforts to preserve the natural wealth of islands and protect them better from worsening extreme weather, plastic pollution, uncontrolled tourism and other stresses.